In hard times, hundreds of people may apply for a single job. Employers get more applications than they can easily handle. If a rapid scan of a CV or covering letter reveals even a few basic spelling errors, it is likely that it will be cast instantly aside, unread. For that reason, if you are applying for a job, it is imperative that you submit a first-class CV and covering letter.
In case it might be useful, I’ve prepared a CV checklist that covers the main issues:
- Restrict your CV to 2 or 3 A4 pages if possible.
- Make sure that the lay-out is clear and well ordered, and makes the text easy to read.
- The font, type sizes, size of headings, spacing and use of bold type and italics should be consistent throughout.
- Use bullet points for lists, but do not have more than 7 or so in one list.
- Keep related information on the same page.
- Include your contact details: phone number, postal address and email address. Make sure that your email address is suitable; if not, set up a new one for your job applications.
- Make sure that your profile is clear and concise.
- List each job in chronological order, beginning with your most recent position.
- Concentrate on your two most recent jobs, as employers will not be much interested in earlier ones.
- List your job titles and the start and finish date of each position, and treat internal promotion as a new job.
- List your (2 or 3) most important responsibilities and achievements in each position. Use strong verbs such as: surpassed, managed, implemented. Mention the number of staff reporting to you, if applicable.
- List the main duties and skills that you can transfer to a new employer.
- Make sure there are no gaps in your work history (if possible).
- Mention any achievements outside your working life.
Clarity and precision
- Write in plain English and avoid jargon and buzz-words.
- Make sure that the CV overall has a logical flow.
- Use strong, active verbs (eg, not ‘was set up by me’ but ‘I set up’).
- Make sure that the grammar and syntax are correct, and that there are no spelling errors. Do not rely on a spell-check (it will not distinguish, for example, between ‘form’ and ‘from’).
It is hard to proofread your own work, so ask a reliable person (better, two reliable people) to check it for you, or use a professional proofreader/editor.